ESU Needs Land

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By Linda Cicoira — Accomack supervisors took no action Wednesday on a request to give county industrial park property to the University of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Foundation to kick-start the group’s dream of getting a four-year college here.

“The county has 200 acres of land not assigned to anything,” said Terry Malarkey, president of the foundation. “If you could commit this land for this project, we would take and advertise it globally. Our dream is Virginia Tech on the Shore.” Malarkey said institutions have historically been established in Virginia after land was donated. “If Virginia Tech doesn’t bite, we could lower our standards to Stanford or … Cambridge.”

“I admire your vision,” said Supervisor Reneta Major. “We have an Eastern Shore Community College and …they are struggling with enrollment. How would you see something like this coming to fruition?”

Malarkey contended ESCC enrollment is where it should be despite the school being in a three-year reboot that could result in ESCC becoming part of Tidewater Community College. Four-and two-year colleges “have been coexisting all through the commonwealth, I puzzle why it would be different here,” he said.

In Melfa, the ESCC, the industrial park, and the county airport are adjacent to each other.

The supervisors approved a resolution supporting the use and testing of unmanned aerial vehicles and systems or drones at both the Wallops Flight Facility and the county airport. The pledge was initiated by Supervisor Ron Wolff.

Supervisor Harris Phillips, the board’s liaison to the Economic Development Authority, which works to get business in the park, praised Wolff for making the resolution. “The EDA is really working hard. The people we have on there now are really working hard. Moving forward with this is a big step.”

In other business, the county was given an unqualified or clean audit, which is the highest review. However, a letter stated there were three issues. “The School Board Payroll Account, Accounts Payable Account, County Payroll Account and Special Welfare Accounts had checks outstanding well over a year … that had not yet been turned over as unclaimed property … It was noted … that the March 2018 bank reconciliation for School Board Payroll Account had not yet been finalized as of October 2018 due to unreconciled differences. In completing the monthly reconciliations, there are instances found by the treasurer’s office in which transaction amounts recorded in the general ledger differ from amounts appearing on the bank statement and/or transactions on the bank statement that have not yet been recorded in the general ledger. It is imperative that the school board promptly work with the treasurer’s office to identify and correct any unreconciled items so that the monthly bank reconciliations are able to be completed in a timely manner as well as help prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.”

County Administrator Mike Mason said a recent bond refinancing resulting in a savings of $750,000 compared to the anticipated $550,000. He also reported that the library project is short about $132,000 when including the staff’s suggested contingency of 8.8%. The capital campaign brought in $850,000. There is $1.5 million in state grants, $2 million in county funds, and a $750,000 library loan. The low bid with bid alternates totaled $4,419,900.

The new bridge to Hillsborough near Belle Haven was completed and the road opened Wednesday, reported VDOT Director Chris Isdell. The bridge washed out after torrential rains last September. Branscome was in charge and finished construction a month early.

The supervisors also put Bells Neck Road back in the secondary road plan and set a public hearing for June regarding increasing the sewer rate for the Central Accomack Service Area from $21.70 per thousand gallons to $22.57 per thousand gallons.